Guides for Researchers

How to select a data repository?

  • Information about selecting a data repository

    In deciding where to store your data, you may have a number of choices about who will look after it. The choice may be straightforward if you have an established data management facility in your domain or institution, or even within your research group or department. When data preservation standards or norms exist in your discipline, these should be followed. Your research funder may recommend a data centre or self-deposit archive. In order of preference:

    1. Use an external data archive or repository already established for your research domain to preserve the data according to recognised standards in your discipline.
    2. If available, use an institutional research data repository, or your research group’s established data management facilities.
    3. Use a cost-free data repository such as Zenodo.
    4. Search for other data repositories here: re3data.org. On top of specific research disciplines you can filter on access categories, data usage licenses, trustworthy data repositories (with a certificate or explicitly adhering to archival standards) and whether a repository gives the data a persistent identifier.

    res3data categories

    Remember – you don’t need to keep everything! Work with your library to help you determine which data you need to retain for validation and/or reuse.

    When choosing a repository it is important to consider factors such as whether the repository:

    • Gives your submitted dataset a persistent and unique identifier. This is essential for sustainable citations – both for data and publications – and to make sure that research outputs in disparate repositories can be linked back to particular researchers and grants.
    • Provides a landing page for each dataset, with metadata that helps others find it, tell what it is, relate it to publications, and cite it. This makes your research more visible and stimulates reuse of the data.
    • Helps you to track how the data has been used by providing access and download statistics.
      Responds to community needs and is preferably certified as a ‘trustworthy data repository’, with an explicit ambition to keep the data available in the long term.
    • Matches your particular data needs (e.g. formats accepted; access, back-up and recovery, and sustainability of the service). Most of this information should be contained within the data repository’s policy pages.
    • Offers clear terms and conditions that meet legal requirements (e.g. for data protection) and allow reuse without unnecessary licensing conditions.
    • Provides guidance on how to cite the data that has been deposited.
    • Charges for its services.

    Your institution may offer Research Data Management support to help you deal with these issues and get the most out of the investment put into your research. This could involve:

    • Registering datasets with the institution’s Data Catalogue to help make the research more visible. National registry services are also being established to harvest institutional data catalogue records to make the data visible at a national level.
    • Depositing the dataset with an institutional repository to maintain a long-term record of its safekeeping and, if it is publicly available, the access and download statistics.
    • Providing advice on rich metadata and other documentation, to help make the data both discoverable and understandable.
      Selecting an appropriate licence for using your data – also when you make them available Open Access.
  • More information

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